Return to Transcripts main page
Trump Re-Election Campaign in Florida; U.S. Sending Additional Military Resources to the Middle East; Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), is Interviewed About Trump's Re-Election and Health Care; Mohamed Morsi Dies and Denied a Public Burial; Mohamed Morsi's Conditions While Detained; Crispin Blunt, British Conservative MP, is Interviewed About Mohamed Morsi and Egypt. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired June 18, 2019 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[13:00:00] CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Amanpour." Here's what's coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: I don't know. How the hell do you lose this election, right?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: President Trump sets his sights on 2020 in Florida. We're joined by the state's Republican senator, Rick Scott.
Then, the Arab world's first freely elected president dies on trial. What Mohamed Morsi's fate tells us about Egypt and democracy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAMY YOUSSEF, COMEDIAN: You can't just walk up to a Muslim girl and like start spitting game or something. What am I supposed to say, like, "Hey,
can I get your father's number?"
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, why not?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Comedian, Ramy Youssef, tells our Hari Sreenivasan how his new series connects his Egyptian roots to his American life.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
Campaign season is well and truly open in the United States as President Trump officially enters the ring, releasing this video and launching his
re-election bid tonight in the key swing state of Florida. But even as he whips up his base with his tried and true promises to deport millions of
immigrants, he's also stoking a serious threat of conflict in the Persian Gulf.
United States says it will send a thousand additional troops and more military resources to the Middle East. As hostility grows with Iran after
attacks on shipping, the latest in the Gulf of Oman. But this is what secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, cautioned today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: President Trump does not want war, and we will continue to communicate that message while doing the things
that are necessary to protect American interests in the region.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Pompeo was talking to the military there. So, how will international crises like these impact President Trump's bid for re-election?
Joining me now is Florida's Republican senator and former governor, Rick Scott. A growing voice on American foreign policy, he's also one of a trio
of senators chosen by the president to lead the Republican effort for a new health care plan.
So, welcome to the program, Senator.
SEN. RICK SCOTT (R-FL): Thanks. Congratulations on your show.
AMANPOUR: Well, thank you, Senator. And it's great to have you because, you know, as I said, the president is re-entering the race for re-election,
obviously, in your state.
I guess I need to ask you, though, how come, you know, his own popularity, according to his own internal polling, is a little low, lower than maybe
all of you would like to see, given the strong numbers on his performance on the economy and other such issues? People have said those two facts
shouldn't be in the same sentence.
SCOTT: Well, I've been in one primary and three general elections, and the polls always would show me losing. They would never show I would win. So,
the only poll that really matters is on election day. And I think what he's got to do is he's got to talk about his successes. The economy is on
fire. He's going to Florida, my home state, where our unemployment when I left was down to 3.3 percent. Very few people are on unemployment
So, he's got to talk about that. He's got to talk about -- the other thing that's important to people, American security, whether you're talking about
the crisis on the border or dealing with Iran or China, North Korea. He's got lots of issues out there, and he's got to talk about what he's doing to
try to make sure that Americans are safe. Those are the two most important issues to Floridians right now.
AMANPOUR: I know you're concentrating on Floridians, but if I just might ask you to put your expert hat on. In Texas, not far from your state, half
the voters say they won't vote for him, and also, he seems to be again, according to their own internal polling, trailing Joe Biden in key swing
states. I guess the question is, why wouldn't this president be cruising to re-election?
SCOTT: You know, I'm not much of a pundit. I can talk about Florida. I know -- you know, these elections are hard. You've got to get out there
and you've got to tell your story, you got to go convince people that you're going to solve their personal problems.
Think about what people are doing. They're saying -- if you get their vote, they're saying, "You are going to be better for my family than the
alternative," and that's what the president's got to say. He's got to say, "The economy is better because of the actions I've taken to reduce taxes
and reduce regulation." You're safer because of actions I've -- he's taken on North Korea and China and Iran and all these places. And so, that's
what he's got to go sell. And it's -- these races are going to be -- it's hard to win. You've got to -- my state is a 50/50 state. You've got to
work your tail off to win. You've got to talk to everybody.
AMANPOUR: I'm going to come back to some of those very, very important security, foreign policy issues in a second. But first, I just want to
talk about something that's also, you know, important to Florida, and that's immigrants, migration, et cetera.
And the president did, in fact, launch the campaign today by saying, "Next week ICE will begin the process of removing the millions of [13:05:00]
illegal aliens who've illicitly found their way into the United States. They'll be removed as fast as they come in. Mexico, using their strong
immigration laws, is doing a very good job of stopping people." So, obviously, that's a little bit of a bone he's throwing to Mexico after that
big sort of tariff war. But I guess, do you know of any plans for this mass deportation, or is this just a slogan? I mean, how is ICE going to
deport millions of people, Senator?
SCOTT: Christiane, I have no -- I have not been informed of this. You know, we're an immigration state. We have -- you know, we have -- you
know, 20 percent of my population in Florida speaks Spanish. We love legal immigration. We don't support illegal immigration. I've been frustrated.
I've been frustrated while I was governor, I've been frustrated up here.
Why don't we get something done? Why are the Democrats against securing the border? Why can't we, you know, take care of the DACA children? Deal
with TPS, have a permanent solution for that, have a work visa program that works? All these things I know would be good for Florida, I think they'd
be good for the country.
So, it's frustrating to me. It's one of my frustrations that -- I mean, I was -- you know, you always want -- I'm a business guy, so you want to get
things done. And right now, I mean, up here nothing is getting done.
AMANPOUR: Yes. I wonder whether you see a time where you can actually re- engage with the Democrats and get this immigration reform done because there was a moment and then it all went -- you know, belly up. There was a
moment early in President Trump's first couple of years. Do you see that as a possibility, a proper bipartisan, you know, mature deal for
immigration reform, including DACA and the other things you mentioned?
SCOTT: I hope so. I think it would be good for the -- I know it would be good for Florida. I think it would be good for the country. You know,
we've got to figure out -- we've got to have a secure border. And a lot of times what people want to do is just they want to take care of their issue
and nobody else's. So, we've got to have a secure border.
I went down right after I got elected to the border, there's a crisis. There's no question. I talked to President Trump yesterday. He was -- my
phone call, very complimentary on Mexico. He says they're actually showing up and reducing the number of people coming across our border, which I
think is a real positive. But let's come up with real solutions.
You know, we've got a humanitarian crisis. We need to get the funding done to help the people that are in custody. So, let -- I mean, I just don't
get why we don't solve these problems. We know we -- who doesn't believe we should take care of the DACA kids? Very few people don't want to take
care of them. We know we have to solve TPS. It's a problem for my state, especially we got a lot of Haitians in my state. Why don't we have a
So, I'm going to work on it. I've been up here a little less than six months, trying to build relationships, work hard, come up with ideas to try
to get something that will make it better for Americans and people that want to come here legally.
AMANPOUR: Well, that would be really interesting to see how that might happen in the next legislative cycle. But let me also --
SCOTT: I'm an optimist.
AMANPOUR: Good. Well, yes. But this is a massive issue as you know better than I do. But we watch it unfolding in these really -- you call it
a humanitarian situation, it is, but it's also very cruel. I mean, the separation of children, the fact children are dying in custody. I mean,
we've been exploring all of this on our program regularly. And everybody wants to see a great country like the United States be secure and have a
rational immigration policy. So, let's hope that'll be the president's and your all motivation next time it comes around.
But on health care, and this is another thing President Trump has said he wants, obviously a reform. He just told ABC in a rather interesting
interview over many, many hours that he sat with George Stephanopoulos that he'll will announcing a new health care plan within the next few months.
His exact words, "We're going to produce phenomenal health care, and we already have the concept of the plan."
So, you are one of three Republicans who are named to figure this out to the health care plan. What does he mean?
SCOTT: Well, I haven't seen his plan. I'm very optimistic that we'll be able to come up with a solution. I came out of the health care industry, I
ran the largest, at the time, hospital company in the country. The problem with health care is it costs too much. Whether its prescription drugs cost
too much, you get surprised with your medical billing.
So, my focus is going to be how do we drive down the cost of health care because that's going to get people more health care. That's what my focus
is. I grew up in a family. I lived in public housing. We didn't have health care insurance. And it's I remember I my mom crying because she
couldn't get health care for my brother. So, this stuff is very important to me.
You need to be able to stay on your parents' plan. If you have a pre- existing condition, you got to be able to continue to get health care. But we've got to figure out how to get health care prices down. I have a bill
that would drive -- that would say why are Americans paying more than Europeans for prescription drug prices? That doesn't make any sense. When
you go to the hospital, how can [13:10:00] you be -- you should not ever be surprised about your billing.
And so, I'm going to continue to push things like this to drive the cost down and more people have access to health care.
AMANPOUR: Senator, since you brought it up, I'm going to have to ask you. You talked about being an entrepreneur, that you were involved in running a
health care provider. As you well know, some 15 years ago while you were still in charge, although you yourself weren't charged, it pleaded guilty
to massive Medicaid and Medicare fraud.
So, what do you say to people who say, "Well, maybe you might not be the best place to be leading this charge and leading the, you know, Republican
panel on health care plans and reforms"?
SCOTT: Sure. Well, I believe in accountability. And the company, you know, made sure -- we made sure that every dime was always paid back. I
believe that's what you have to do. As a CEO of a company, you take responsibility, you take charge and you make sure all the money was paid
back. We did.
I have been very focused my whole career on how you get people more health care. I did it as governor. We made sure our Medicaid plan worked. We
controlled the cost but made sure that somebody was responsible for your care. And I'll do the same thing with anything I'm involved in with health
care up here.
AMANPOUR: So, let me ask you again on health care, because again, a huge issue. And as you know, it played very, very strongly in the midterm
elections. And one of the reasons, I guess, why Republicans haven't torpedoed the Affordable Care Act is because people actually protested that
even that possibility to -- in Republican town halls. Here's what I asked Valerie Jarrett, who's got a new book out. I interviewed her and
obviously, I asked her about the Affordable Care Act because it was called Obamacare, and she was, you know, front and center in that administration
as a senior adviser.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VALERIE JARRETT, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER TO BARACK OBAMA: And you mentioned the Affordable Care Act. The reason why it's still the law of the land is
because so many people came out and protested at town halls and sent a very strong message to their Republican leaders about how they felt about losing
this important benefit.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, I mean, that's a fact and that was showed in the midterm elections. What -- do you have any plans that will make people not want to
keep the Obamacare?
SCOTT: Well, first, Christiane, I couldn't hear what Valerie said. But --
AMANPOUR: Well, what she said. Let me just say what she said. The people at town halls sent a very strong message to their Republican leaders about
how they felt about losing this important benefit.
SCOTT: Well, let's look at reality. Even the Democrats are trying to walk away from Obamacare. They're trying to get Medicare for all. So, they
don't -- they know the problem with Obamacare is this, premiums skyrocketed, deductibles skyrocketed. If you go before Obamacare was
passed and said the deductible are -- deductible was going to be $5,000, people would say, "Oh, that's a catastrophic plan." That's common place
So -- and remember what President Obama said, every family's health care costs were going to go down, what, $2,500. It did the opposite. Premiums
have skyrocketed. So, we've got to go back and say, how do you drive the cost, the delivery cost of health care down? That's the problem we have.
The cost of health care is too expensive. So, that's what I'm going to continue to focus on.
But Obamacare has not been a success. Premiums are up, copayments are up, deductibles are way up.
AMANPOUR: But the thing is people voted on it and they voted to keep it and they voted because it covers existing conditions, it covers young
people on their parents. So, all of that. Anyway, I know we can have an argument about that. But --
SCOTT: Christiane, that's exactly right. We should make sure that you can still get health care if you have a pre-existing condition. We should make
sure you can stay on your parents' plan. But to have these premiums skyrocket they've had -- that they've done after Obamacare is not what the
American public was promised.
AMANPOUR: Let us move on to a very urgent issue and you sort of brought it up and we talked about it, the escalation between Iran and the United
States. I spoke to the Iranian ambassador in an exclusive interview. He was afraid that confrontation could happen. I spoke to Bill Byrnes, former
U.S. deputy secretary of the state, who, as you know, has been very closely involved in Iran diplomacy. And he said that there is a real problem
because the United States doesn't necessarily -- hasn't built any kind of movement with allies. This is what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM BURNS, FORMER U.S. DEPUTY SECRETARY OF STATE: The fact that the administration seems to be having such a difficult time persuading some of
our closest allies of our case is a mark, I think, of how much our credibility has suffered and how much we've isolated ourselves since
President Trump made the really unfortunate decision to abandon the comprehensive nuclear agreement.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, we have a situation here that's sort of a vicious cycle. I don't know how you see it, but you just heard Secretary Pompeo said the
president does not want war. What do you think the president's plan [13:15:00] is? Have you seen a plan for this escalation?
SCOTT: Christiane, I could not hear what the individual said. But here's the way I look at it. Is it Iran or the United States have gone after
these ships? It's Iran. Is it Iran or the United States that are supporting groups like Hezbollah? It's Iran.
So, we sit there -- I wish Iran would act responsibly and say they're not going to spread terrorism around the world. They're in Venezuela. Why are
they in our hemisphere spreading problems? So, I hope -- I'm glad the president doesn't want to go to war. None of us want to go to war. But we
can't sit there and have them chant death to America and think they're going to be our friend, say they're going to annihilate Israel and think
they're going to be our friend.
So, we've got to understand, we've got to stand up against Iran if they're going to do the bad thing. I hope they don't. I don't want to go to war,
none of us want to go to war, but we can't let them go do -- take -- down this path. Though, they're hurting the shipping channels but somehow
blaming it on America. We didn't do that, they did.
AMANPOUR: Well, you see, here's the thing, the Europeans, who are your allies, who you would depend on for any, I guess, big action, say that
actually it was the United States who violated the Iran nuclear deal by pulling out and not honoring the economic part that it had to play as Iran
is honoring its nuclear part.
So, this is a vicious cycle. And I just wonder whether you see an off-ramp here. But it's very clear what the Europeans believe. They say, "Let's
put this in context. Whatever is happening down there, it is the United States that started this by violating its terms under the deal."
SCOTT: They -- I think the difference is America made the decision not to stay as a member of that. The Europeans to this date, I think, believe in
it. So, if that's good for the Europeans, it's good for Iran, they ought to comply with it. They don't need the Americans to be part of this. But
they -- the Iranians should not be, one, developing a nuclear weapon. Number two, they also should not be doing these things to the ships that
AMANPOUR: Yes. As you know, the Europeans can't do their business because the U.S. has imposed secondary sanctions. But I want to move on to
Venezuela because you were quite vocal about Venezuela. You've written an op-ed in which you say, "The U.S. military action in Venezuela may become a
necessity." Where -- what is the trigger point for that? Do you believe in the Trump administration getting involved militarily in Venezuela?
SCOTT: You sure hope not. But let's -- I've been down to Cucuta. I've talked to the families down there. These kids are starving to death. We
have an individual, Maduro, with the support of the Cuban government, that is basically killing children.
I have grandchildren, I have 3-year-old grandson. If he was living in Venezuela, his mom would be saying, you know, "I don't have food for you
today. I'm going to give you some dirty water. Don't get sick because we don't have any medicine. And by the way, our hospitals are not open. They
don't have the technology today to take care of you." That's going on. And it's going on because Maduro is doing it with the support of Cuba,
Russia, China, Iran, Hezbollah, the ELN.
So, we have to deal with two things. We've got a genocide going on right now. And then if we don't deal with this issue, we're going to have the
same -- all the bad actors up there, we're going to have a Syria in our hemisphere.
And so, Maduro ought to step aside. Let's have free and fair elections. Cuba should -- everybody ought to get out of there. Let the Venezuelans
decide what their government is going to be. But Maduro had a fraudulent election. Everybody has agreed it was a fraudulent election. So, step
aside and do the right thing.
AMANPOUR: To be continued. These are very important points. Senator Rick Scott, thank you so much for joining us tonight.
Now, Egypt has always been a key U.S. ally in the Arab world. On Monday, almost exactly seven years since he became Egypt's first democratically
elected president, Mohamed Morsi collapsed and died in a glass cage, standing trial in yet another raft of charges by the regime of President
Sisi, who deposed and replaced him six years ago.
State media reports Morsi had a heart attack. Denies a public burial in his own hometown. The 67-year-old Morsi was laid to rest this morning in
Cairo with only a few family members present.
According to one of his lawyers, he spent his last minutes in court testifying that he was still the legitimate president of his country.
Human rights groups are calling for an independent investigation into the Egyptian government's treatment of Morsi in prison, arguing that he was not
given the medical treatment he needed. And we'll talk to our two guests about what this says about democracy and human rights in Egypt. But let's
first have a look back at the promise and the peril of Egypt's fight for freedom [13:20:00].
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Like so much of the Arab Spring history, Mohamed Morsi's tenure was punctuated by massive crowds in Egypt's famous Tahrir Square. The road
to his presidency began in 2011 when these masses helped topple the three- decade rule of the strong man, Hosni Mubarak, who would then himself spend years in prison.
In 2012, Morsi was put forward as the Muslim Brotherhood candidate for president. Trained as an engineer, he was a complete unknown outside the
country. I spoke to him at the time, and I asked him whether democracy and the rights of women would be respected.
MOHAMED MORSI, THEN-EGYPTIAN PRESIDENT: Of course.
AMANPOUR: All right. Well, thank you for saying that in English. I hear you loud and clear. And all the Egyptian women are hoping that they will
be respected and their rights guaranteed.
MORSI: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: So, I guess now that I have you here, I just want you to say it loud and clear.
MORSI: Yes, loudly and clearly. All Egyptian women have the same rights like the men. They are all my sisters, my daughters, my wife and my
mother. They are all Egyptians. There is no differences whatsoever among the people in Egypt, the people of Egypt, based on anything like belief or
sex or whatever you call or you name.
AMANPOUR: Egyptians then cast their votes. For the first time, it was a truly Democratic election.
AMANPOUR: Mohamed Morsi will be and is the next president of Egypt.
AMANPOUR: And I was there in Tahrir Square with my colleague Ben Wedeman to witness that. He immediately resigned from the Muslim Brotherhood, and
yet suspicions persisted. His critics say he did not maintain enough distance from the brotherhood, but he also didn't fulfill some of the worst
fears. He kept decent relations with the United States and with Israel, honoring the peace treaties signed at Camp David.
But he presided over a chaotic and at times authoritarian administration. A year later, frustrated Egyptians again took to Tahrir Square, this time
protesting against him. And that's when the military, led by his own defense secretary, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, intervened.
At a Muslim Brotherhood rally, the military fired into the crowd and left at least 800 people dead. Morsi spent the rest of his life in prison.
Abdel Fattah el-Sisi remains the president of Egypt.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Now, these events all matter more because of Egypt's bellwether status. What happens there can be a sign of what's to come in the region.
I'm joined now by the British lawmaker, MP Crispin Blunt, who led a government panel on the treatment of President Morsi last year.
CRISPIN BLUNT, BRITISH CONSERVATIVE MP: Parliamentary panel.
AMANPOUR: Parliamentary panel. Hold on a second. I've still got to read your introduction. He was also the chair of the U.K. Foreign Affairs
Select Committee. And he's joining me now, intervening even as we speak. Nonetheless, aptly created, a parliamentary panel.
What exactly does that mean? Tell me about the parliamentary panel.
BLUNT: Well, I was asked to put a panel together to look at the conditions under which Mohamed Morsi was being detained. And I selected Lord Edward
Faulks to join me, who is a Conservative former justice minister. Certainly, wouldn't be seen as a blanching liberal by any standards. He's
also now a judge. And my labor colleague, Dr. Paul Williams, who is a practicing GP, continues to practice whilst he's in the House of Commons.
But importantly, before coming into the House of Commons, he had inspected and checked victims of torture for human rights organizations in the United
Kingdom to validate their claims on medical grounds.
AMANPOUR: So, you are claiming that the government of Egypt could be headed up on torture charges?
BLUNT: Well, so -- what I then put together was what I thought a panel that ought to give confidence to the Egyptians that we were going to do any
review of his conditions fairly. As much as anything else, it was an opportunity for them to, obviously, let us see the conditions. And if they
were going to let us go and look, they might improve the conditions that we are being reported to us, which was the cause of the inquiry in the first
But we got no communication for our -- to our requests from the Egyptian government to go and have a look. So, we then looked to all the evidence
that was available to us remotely in order to put together our report, which we did in march 2018.
AMANPOUR: And we'll get to that. But you were slightly prescient because in march 2018, I mean, you wrote that unless things change -- and I think
you said it could lead to Morsi's death.
BLUNT: We did very so. We said that if his -- if he continued not to receive the medical treatment he needed and he continued to be held in what
appeared to be [13:25:00] an -- on the evidence available to were the most demeaning, difficult conditions, 23 hours of solitude, very difficult for
him to raise the attention --
AMANPOUR: Per day.
BLUNT: -- of his -- per day -- to raise the attention of his waters. If he was ill. There were occasions where he had gone into a diabetic coma
whilst in the cell. No mattress, only two blankets to sleep on or around and no proper communication. Only three family visits in six years is
woefully below any kind of national standard, below the standard any ordinary Egyptian in custody would expect.
And for a former president of Egypt, indeed the only properly democratically elected president of Egypt, standards which I don't think
reflect well on Egypt at all.
AMANPOUR: So, do you -- are you calling for an independent investigation? Human Rights Watch, other organizations?
BLUNT: I think so many people assess the evidence of the conditions under which Mohamed Morsi was being held. We were -- we're not alone, but we
came to a specific conclusion carefully guided by a counsel to our inquiry that the standards in which he was being held were so cruel and degrading
that they could amount to torture.
Torture is a crime of universal jurisdiction, and the responsibility for torture in those circumstances must go all the way up to the chain of
command to the current head of state of Egypt. It is plainly the conditions under which Mohamed Morsi was being held in and his health and
everything else would have been of interest to the -- his successor.
AMANPOUR: Yes. And as I said, Human Rights Watch says, "I think there's a very strong case to be made that this was criminal negligence, deliberate
malfeasance, in providing Morsi basic prisoner rights. He was obviously singled out for mistreatment." This is the executive director for the
Do you, though, think -- I mean, let's face it, the current president who deposed Morsi, who was involved in, you know, backing up the anti-Morsi
protesters and who is now president, who was Morsi's defense secretary, has been welcomed in the White House, he's welcomed, obviously, in Saudi
Arabia. He's part of the group of Arab countries who support the U.S. and a certain politics in that region. And that politics is, if anything, can
be summed up as anti-Islamic and anti-Muslim Brotherhood.
BLUNT: That's true. And there's obviously evidence about the involvement of some of those states who are (INAUDIBLE) on the anti-Islamism agenda, to
some degree, precipitated in the difficulties that Mohamed Morsi found himself in towards the end of his time in government.
And -- but what is very disappointing is the reaction of the British government today, which has basically said that its primary interest is
calm and stability, noting that Mohamed Morsi was a significant figure in Egypt's political history. Well, frankly, that really isn't good enough.
This is the only person ever -- democratically elected president of Egypt in a properly contested election.
AMANPOUR: So, how would you describe it? Let's just say what the -- you know, as I say, the Egyptian government says, "No, he's a terrorist. He is
an Islamist. He's a Muslim Brotherhood." We know that he stepped down from the Muslim Brotherhood immediately as he was elected. And he said
over and over to me that there's not an Islamic democracy or a Muslim Brotherhood democracy. This is actually what he said --
AMANPOUR: -- and then we'll talk about how he was charged afterwards.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MORSI (through translator): There is no such thing called an Islamic democracy. There is democracy only. And democracy is the instrument that
is present now. The people are the source of authority. The social mindset is there are a people, and the people choose. That's democracy.
And that agrees with consultation called for in Islam.
With that, we are eager for freedom. We are eager for justice. Social justice and a democratic constitutional state. We see Egypt as a
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And he said the Egyptian people should be free to choose for themselves. How do you think he actually governed? And let's just remind
everybody that Morsi was on trial for espionage.
AMANPOUR: He faced charges of terrorism, breaking out of prison.
BLUNT: Well, on some of these charges are ludicrous. I mean, how -- if you're the president of the state, how you can be charged with spying for
another state slightly escapes me. However, there was a reason I was asked to chair this review, which was that I was one of the -- I think I was
possibly the only European politician to be in -- to visit the Muslim Brotherhood leadership in Rab'a in July 2013. I went twice. I was --
AMANPOUR: This was after the crackdown by the government?
BLUNT: This was after the coup but whilst the demonstrations were still -- were taking place. One was able to go in and out of the demonstrations and
meet the people there who were demonstrating and get a sense of the demonstration and also get a sense of the people there.
And I obviously come from quite a conventional political background. I also had quite a long time to learn about the politics of the Middle East.
And one already sensed this extraordinary division in Egyptian society between those people who were supporting democracy and the freedom and
justice party on the one hand and those who saw it as a deep threat to the long-term future of Egypt.
And somehow, this obviously needed to be reconciled. And the irony in all of this is actually if the freedom and justice party had taken the advice
of President Erdogan, who went to lecture in Cairo I think in 2012 and then was greeted by millions of Egyptians I think as he arrived.
And some of his lectures was that Egypt should go for a secular constitution. And I think if they had gone down that path, they would then
have put much of the anxiety and concern of other Egyptian citizens to rest.
So those concerns existed. Of course, they did. But we then have to remember that his administration was handicapped from the start because it
never had the cooperation, the military and it had effectively the police simply done in tools on the Morsi administration once they were there.
AMANPOUR: Why does this matter now that obviously, President Morsi is now dead? It says a lot about democracy and you have an increasing
authoritarian Egypt harking back.
Many in Egypt say to worse conditions than under President Mubarak, whose regime and reign led to the Arab Spring in the first place. What's the
crux of this issue for Britain, for the United States, for the democratic world?
BLUNT: Well, I think it's a test of our values. And the British administration and the American administration when Morsi won 51.3 percent
of the vote then had to say to the Egyptian military establishment, this guy's won, and you are going to need to accept his government.
And then they made it very difficult for his administration to govern. I think there were issues like power cuts and the support for the civil
administration so much of which in Egypt is in the hands of the military.
A chunk of the economy is controlled by the army. It was made pretty difficult for his administration to work.
He probably didn't react in the right way. He then narrowed the base of his administration during a time he was in charge and then began to select
governments of provinces who were very closely aligned with the Brotherhood.
That obviously reinforced the anxiety of people who were worried about the constitutional future of Egypt. And then, of course, there was an argument
over the constitutional court and the judges that were on it. And obviously, these are all judges appointed in the Mubarak era.
So you can see the difficulty with which that fledgling democratic administration had to operate. And that's the disaster here is that it
wasn't able then to establish itself for the medium term.
And the key thing here is they should not have been able to subvert the constitution to make it an Islamic constitution and it carried out some
kind of coup in that sense where like Iran has been turned into effectively a theocracy. And everybody failed the test in Egypt.
AMANPOUR: Can I just switch conversations? It's slightly related but not really.
You're a Tory MP. We're in the middle of a Brexit crisis and a leadership contest right now.
As I said, you're in foreign affairs. The former foreign secretary Boris Johnson looks to be a frontrunner.
But he has his share of critics in Europe. People say he didn't do a very good job as a consensus builder, being prepared as a foreign minister.
He's talking about leaving, deal or no deal. What is on the horizon, do you believe, after this contest is resolved?
BLUNT: Well, one of the reasons why Boris is so far in front is that he is determined that we're going to leave on the 31st of October. And for the
Conservative Party, who won the election in 2015 on the promise of a referendum, we enacted the law for the referendum in 2016, promising that
this would be the decision that was going to either have us remain or leave the European Union.
And to everyone's surprise, the electorate then [13:35:00] voted to leave. And we promised to implement that decision.
And three years later, following another general election in 2017 when we all promised we would, both the Labour Party and the Conservative Party
were all elected on a mandate to have a Brexit, we haven't done so.
So that basic breach of fate with the electorate is now undermining conservative credibility. And so the (INAUDIBLE) is that we have first
base, and the baseful term, is that we've actually got to get that delivered.
AMANPOUR: Deal or no deal?
BLUNT: Deal or no deal. And, of course, those terms are misleading anyway. There are already a load of arrangements that have been made if we
leave with no withdrawal agreement.
And the deal, of course, if there's no withdrawal agreement, are World Trade Organization terms plus all the understandings that have already been
reached between the European Union and United Kingdom about how things will operate in the absence of the withdrawal agreement as negotiated.
AMANPOUR: Unsettled times here, there, and frankly everywhere. Crispin Blunt, thank you very much indeed for joining us tonight.
So let us look deeper into the intersection between faith, culture, and politics. Our next guest, Ramy Youssef, is of Egyptian descent where over
90 percent of the population is Muslim.
As a first-generation American, the comedy star is bringing his Arab and Muslim heritage to American T.V. screens with his new show, "Ramy". Here's
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAMY HASSAN: I want to know who I am. I want to explore.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're like the kids in Egypt. They throw down the government. Big revolution. Then what? No plan.
HASSAN: I don't know what I'm doing, man. I look at my parents and how strong they are and how they just know everything's going to be OK because
they have God.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: While there are parallels with his own life, Youssef told our Hari Sreenivasan that the show is not autobiographical but rather a
reflection of his community.
HARI SREENIVASAN, CONTRIBUTOR: All right. So the character, Ramy Youssef, who is he?
RAMY YOUSSEF, CO-CREATOR, AND ACTOR, RAMY: Oh, man. Well, the character on the show is Ramy Hassan and he's different from Ramy Youssef.
SREENIVASAN: You're Ramy Youssef.
YOUSSEF: I'm Ramy Youssef.
SREENIVASAN: He's Ramy Hassan.
YOUSSEF: That last name change makes everything fictional.
SREENIVASAN: Everything fictional.
YOUSSEF: Everything is fictional.
SREENIVASAN: So when everybody on set refers to you as Ramy, Ramy, Ramy, Ramy, you're still thinking, "No, no, no, I'm Ramy Hasan now."
YOUSSEF: Yes, I'm the character now and none of those things are real.
SREENIVASAN: OK. I mean is it that -- is the premise, the interest of the show that he happens to be an Arab Muslim? Is it a coming of age story and
you're thinking about how to kind of truncate this idea and explain to people what do Youssef say?
YOUSSEF: It's a little bit of both. I think the thing that was always really interesting to me was I had never seen someone who is from my
generation openly dealing with faith in a way that felt honest. I was really fascinated by the concept that there's what you believe and then
what you actually do.
And there's kind of this space in the middle where you're trying to navigate it. Most of the stuff about faith is kind of like, oh, well, I'm
leaving it behind. It's outdated.
You know, my culture, my religion, I don't need it. I need to upgrade.
And I never really related to that. That's not how my brain works. It's not what I believe.
I've always been like, no, no, I believe in my faith, but I also am kind of pulled by my desires, by my ego, by you know, whatever anyone can be pulled
by to not be their higher self.
Whether it's the faith you believe in or the idea you have of who you should be. And so what does it look like to have a character in a really
human way dealing with that in the context of an Arab Muslim family?
And I think seeing someone deal with that honestly is probably the most humanizing thing you could do for a group of people that have never had the
SREENIVASAN: Yes. So there's a clip early on that helps establish that. This is with you and your mom in a car, and you're starting to talk about
dating and marriage a little bit. Let's take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYSA HASSAN: Ramy, do you want to stay alone forever?
HASSAN: Mom, you can't just walk up to a Muslim girl and like start spitting game or something. What am I supposed to say? Like, "Hey, can I
get your father's number?"
HASSAN: Yes, why not?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SREENIVASAN: Did that happen to you in your life? Ever?
YOUSSEF: No, my parents have been pretty relaxed about pushing it. That's a Ramy Hassan difference.
I think his family on the show looks a little bit more like some of the Arab families that I grew up around, less so exactly my family.
SREENIVASAN: So this is kind of informed by conversations a hundred times with your friends and family members?
YOUSSEF: Yes, looking at the community. And it's also kind of informs what is -- I mean, even though I haven't had that conversation with my mom,
that conversation I have had with myself is, you know, who am I going to end up with?
What does the next generation look like, if I do believe in my faith and if I am trying to preserve my culture? Do I want to make sure I'm marrying
someone who speaks the same language as me?
Do I want to have a family that practices the same faith? Do I want to switch it up?
These are all [13:40:00] questions that you don't think you have to answer until all the sudden you have to right now. And watching the character
deal with that and realize that he needs to, you know, be a leader, even whether it's within a community or just his own family, he's got to grow
SREENIVASAN: These are kind of sort of textured and nuanced insights into people that right now it seems that we lack when we are watching portrayals
of Muslims broadly in Hollywood, on television.
We seem to have the kind of generic trope of terrorists on the one hand. And then we're slowly easing into kind of a very tame and perhaps safe
version of a Muslim that we can see.
You're kind of not in either of those buckets. You're sort of trying something new.
YOUSSEF: Yes, yes. I think we're rooting it in something that I, again, find to be more real.
It's not real to all Muslim experiences. I mean most Muslims in America aren't Arab. They're black or South Asian.
And so this was, for me, an attempt to be very specific. I think most of the time when we see these portrayals, they feel more like apologies than
They're more, hey, look, we can be safe or we can be just like you. And we kind of discarded that dialogue and more so through a character in who's
really trying to figure out his own agenda and it doesn't really matter what the external things are.
SREENIVASAN: There's an entire episode kind of around 9/11 or at least 9/11 is one of the events in that episode. Is that kind of a demarcation
line for most Muslim-Americans or even Muslims around the world? A pre- 9/11 era and a post-9/11 era?
YOUSSEF: Yes, absolutely. I mean whether you want it to or not.
I mean on one level, it's a demarcation for all Americans. It's just so horrifying and it was something that I think was so performatively watched
and for people who lived close to New York not only felt with television performance of it but the real-life impact where you just know people.
So that in and of itself is a demarcation. And then you add the layer of in the story we explore being a child, who when a child is 12 or 13, that
in and of itself is a demarcation where it's like, oh, man, I'm now growing into what is my adulthood, sexuality, puberty, all these things.
And then the added layer of, oh, is the faith that I have, is the sound of my name responsible for the worst thing I've seen? And so really, that
episode is all those things colliding.
It's the overall human level. It's the being a kid transitioning into a teenager. And then it's this level of our culture and our faith being
pinned as the reasons for it and how that shifts an entire community.
SREENIVASAN: What do you remember from your real life? I know you wrote an episode and I don't know how much of it is exactly what happened to you.
But what do you remember around that day and the weeks surrounding it and kind of teaching yourself about maybe how America has changed?
YOUSSEF: I remember most actually just the self-doubt. I remember just seeing people who look and are linked to your heritage and your belief.
And when you are a kid who's afraid and you are growing up in a place that you are not part of the majority culture, you can turn on yourself. And to
me, that is the conversation that's always been missed for me is how it affects kids but also the way that we eventually stereotype ourselves.
So things happen and we distance ourselves from ourselves, from our families, from our faiths. And so that, for me, I remember kind of
planting those seeds and then me later kind of pushing against that narrative and stepping towards embracing it and realizing that those things
But it was such a process. And so that episode really just captures that initial shock, that initial fear from a different perspective.
SREENIVASAN: You mentioned this earlier. There's a lot of talk about faith, and that's actually something we just don't actually see. Whether
it was about Islam or about Christianity right now, in Hollywood today.
And this was very intentional on your part, that there's a strong kind of religious through line. It's not just your questioning but it's almost
like a character in all the episodes.
YOUSSEF: Yes. I think the presence of spirituality and God as a character throughout the episodes. And I think that we wanted to make it
You see me praying in that manner. You see me at the mosque but it's also kind of removed from Islam.
It really -- it's talking about spirituality, which I think also gets missed out in the conversation. So much of it is about, well, I'm Muslim
and I'm this type of Muslim or I'm Christian.
We kind of talk about religions but we don't talk about religion. Or we talk about the rules and we talk about the negatives, but we don't even
talk about what the goal is.
It would almost be like 113:45:00] talking about basketball and only talking about fouls or technical fouls. Wait, why aren't we talking about
like slam dunks and alley-oops?
Like there's all this cool stuff about the sport that we don't even get to. We're just focusing on the infractions.
And so this steps out of, you know, only focusing on that and looks at someone striving for that bigger picture.
SREENIVASAN: And it also lends itself to some very funny comedic moments. There's a clip from a mosque I want to take a look at.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are you wearing, bro?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is this? I mean, seriously. I'm talking about you in this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a little bit short.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's like a Muslim skirt for a man. It's really too much.
Why are you wearing a tracksuit?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It looks dope. Don't be jealous, OK? Run DMC, baby. Run DMC all day.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You look like a Russian basketball coach.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think I look good.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You look good, yes, for a 6-year-old girl. You're going to ruin this whole meeting. It's very frustrating.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What meeting?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Straighten the lines. Fill in the gaps.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SREENIVASAN: I mean it might go down in history as the first visualization of a joke that happened in a mosque, right? We've only ever seen people
very religiously in this moment.
YOUSSEF: I never thought about it like that.
SREENIVASAN: I mean I've never seen -- and even when you look at the portrayals of churches, it's very austere and people are in penance.
YOUSSEF: I mean reframing a mosque is such a goal of the show. And I didn't even realize how important it was until we made the pilot.
So when we first made the pilot, it didn't open up the way it does now. Right now, it opens up with the scene we looked at earlier, my mom and I in
the car. It used to open just at the mosque.
And when it did, they take these new shows before they make the rest of the season. They throw them to test audiences and say, hey, what do you think
And so test audiences watching it for the first 10 minutes, because we started it at the mosque speaking in Arabic, they thought the show was most
like a drama --
SREENIVASAN: A foreign documentary.
YOUSSEF: -- of Homeland. So they thought the show with me in a mosque was about terrorists. And it took them 10 minutes until I was on a date with a
girl named Chloe to realize, oh, no, no, this could be a comedy. I mean it took that long.
Because they saw a mosque, heard the call to prayer, and almost universally, the testing put it in the category of a drama and a terrorist
And the fact that this place that can be such a place of refuge. And we see in the show this is a place where people go to solve their problems, a
place where people go to commune with each other and to celebrate and to worship together is only framed in one other way because we've only ever
seen someone say a lot burn and then a detonator go off.
And so the reframing of that, to even have a joke like that and even have interactions like that are a huge goal of the show. And so many people who
have seen it are like, I haven't ever seen the inside of a mosque. And the fact that they get to see it this way is really exciting to me.
SREENIVASAN: One of my favorite episodes was around the mother's character, who's a fantastic actress. I mean she pulled that off
And there's another one that you have around the sister. And you discuss kind of, you know, there's sexiness, what's allowed culturally, their role.
And then also, just at a very core level the kind of double standard that exists for women in these cultures or even in society in general. Let's
take a look at a clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAMY: Mom, where are the keys? I can't find them.
MAYSA: Where are you going?
RAMY: I'm going out.
MAYSA: Eat Habibi.
RAMY: Yes, I got to go now.
MAYSA: At least take some with you, OK? You'll be hungry later.
DENA: And that was filled with sugar.
RAMY: No, no way.
DENA: OK. I'm going tonight.
FAROUK HASSAN: Again, Dena? This is the second time this week.
DENA: I'm 25-years-old. Why is there a limit? Does anyone even care where Ramy goes? You guys never ask him where he is.
MAYSA: He just told me he's going out.
FAROUK: Yes, that's what I just said.
DENA: He literally gave you no information.
RAMY: Yeah, I'm going to go. Love you, mom.
MAYSA: Love you, Habibi. What time are you coming back?
RAMY: I don't know.
DENA: I'm leaving.
FAROUK: OK, Dena. Just don't be late.
MAYSA: Please, text me when you get there. Please, soft of the driving. Careful of the brakes.
[13:50:00] DENA: OK, mom.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SREENIVASAN: You ever get pushback from the Muslim community at large? Because as an Indian, if you try to go to do stories in India, why do you
want to show the poverty, why are you looking at the bad stuff? Why aren't you painting us in a better light?
YOUSSEF: Yeah. I mean it's difficult in general to even say the Muslim community because there's so many. So we're going at it from so many
different points of view.
I would say Arab Muslims, there's been a little bit of that of why are you showing us like this? But I would say there's also been a resounding
feeling that I felt from that community in particular of oh, man, this is us, and being really excited.
In other Muslim communities, feeling, well, this has nothing to do with me and this isn't my story. So there's that range but there is kind of this
thing of why are you showing those things and why are you displaying them. And I think that, again, that's kind of the job of a show like this.
SREENIVASAN: I've also read you've really worked hard on trying to, whether it's the staffing of the writer's room, whether it's the casting,
trying to find people that are appropriate to the part, who understand what it is that they're writing in the first place.
YOUSSEF: Yeah, it's really important to inform those conversations in a really good way. And we've done it by hiring writers, by hiring
consultants, by making sure the actors we employ are, you know, people who could maybe be close to the experience but certainly when we're dealing
with stuff that has actual Arabic for an Arab role, someone who can speak it.
SREENIVASAN: One of the most interesting characters that I see in the series is Steve Way, who is in real life one of your best friends and is
the best friend of this character. Let's take a look at a clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE: This is awesome. Dude, why did you swipe no on her?
HASSAN: Dude, she's not my vibe.
STEVE: You're [bleep] racist.
HASSAN: How is that racist? Headscarf is not a race. It's something that people wear.
STEVE: I love when they're all covered from their head to their toe. That mystery is sexy.
HASSAN: That's disgusting.
STEVE: Have you ever dated a Muslim girl?
HASSAN: No, I haven't. And that's why I'm doing this. I'm trying to meet someone, you know, different.
STEVE: You're such a racist.
HASSAN: How is that racist, dude? Islam is not a race. It's something you believe in.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SREENIVASAN: It's just one of these relationships actually that makes you realize that we don't see people like Steve on T.V.
SREENIVASAN: Hardly ever.
YOUSSEF: No, you don't. I mean it's really hard to pin actual disabled actors playing disabled roles. I mean you should hear Steve rant about
Drake on Degrassi. He'll give you a great 10-minute speech about it.
But yes, it's really obviously something that again the accuracy of putting people who are actually the thing when you do it on screen. And for me,
this is a real-life relationship with Steve.
Not that the things that happened in the show are real but he's been a friend of mine for so long, and in many ways, our differences -- and
obviously there are different differences but being different together has been a huge part of our relationship.
And so showing that on this show when I had this opportunity to have the show was really important to me because he's one of the greatest comedians
that I know. And I see all comedy. I'm involved with it.
But he doesn't get an opportunity to be seen just because of really practical things. And if you try to go to a comedy club in New York -- I
mean, if you're a patron, you can barely get in. A walking patron. It's these tiny little clubs.
And they're amazing, but someone like him doesn't get there, you know, doesn't get to do it. And so how can we give him a platform and how can we
get in his story?
SREENIVASAN: Speaking of stand-up, when does your HBO special drop?
YOUSSEF: On June 29.
SREENIVASAN: And how long did that take to put together?
YOUSSEF: It's a collection of stand-up that I've been doing for the last seven or eight years. I mean some jokes are from that first year, and then
some jokes are from two weeks before I shot it.
And it really is a companion piece to the show. I think a lot of it is kind of a long form talking explanation of certain bits and certain things.
It's really personal and it also can be a little bit topical. So it covers a couple of things from this year, but also really spans into stuff that I
think if you've seen the show or if you haven't will integrate pretty fully.
SREENIVASAN: Ramy Youssef, congratulations.
YOUSSEF: Thanks, man.
SREENIVASAN: And looking forward to season two. Thanks for joining us.
YOUSSEF: Oh, man, thank you. And thanks for watching.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And the comedian Ramy Youssef trying to make a space for everyone with his new show "Ramy."
That is it for now. Remember, you can always listen to our podcast and see us online at amanpour.com. And you can follow me on Instagram and Twitter.
Thanks for watching and goodbye from London.